Bioidentical Hormones 101 
The Book, by Jeffrey Dach MD

Chapter 50. Signature in a Cell, Aging, Disease and Death

Section Thirteen : Mind Body Connection and Spirituality

Chapter 50. Signature in a Cell, Aging, Disease and Death

Intelligent Design - Metaphysical Speculation or Science?

DNA Double Helix Intelligent Design Signature in a Cell Stephen MeyerLeft Image: DNA double helix, courtesy of Wikimedia commons

The central argument of Stephen Meyer’s book, “Signature in a Cell”, is that coded instruction sets in cellular DNA, just like computer code, require intelligence for their origin.(1)   Meyer calls this the best inference from the evidence, a valid argument used in science.  I think this argument is a valid one.  One can make the inference that the origin of information indicates intelligence.  Meyer's argument remains science because it stops short of the next step, which is to make the metaphysical inference that the “intelligent agent” that originates the information in nature is God, the creator of the universe.  This metaphysical inference is the old “Watchmaker Argument” by William Paley written in 1826.(2)  So, in order to avoid this for the moment, let’s not make this metaphysical inference.

Observing Origination of New Code 

We can observe a coded instruction set originate when a computer programmer writes new code for a computer program.  The human computer programmer is said to be “an intelligent agent”.  We can actually sit behind the man as he does his work, observing new computer software being written.  What about computer software in nature?  Unfortunately none of us current day humans will ever directly observe the origin of the first information in DNA, at the dawn of life billions of years ago.

What is Intelligence? 

So once we agree that the best inference is that coded instructions in DNA originated from intelligence, then what?  We are left with the problem of defining “intelligence”.  We think we know what intelligence is, yet once we look at the definition, we discover that we really don’t have a good scientific definition of intelligence.  I suspect the reason for this is that our recognition of intelligence is somewhat subjective. 

Reading Other People’s Intelligence 

For example, one of the first things we do when meeting a new person, is to try assessing that person’s level of intelligence.   Some of us have an innate ability to do this. Some of us lack this ability.  When it comes to reading other people, in addition to intelligence,  we are interested in other qualities in the new person.  Are they a good or a bad person, are they trustworthy, truthful, capable of love, are they happy, depressed, confident, fearful?   Is this new person a threat to me in any way?  Will they be a potential ally or a foe? 

Intelligence is in the Subjective Realm 

We can also try to assess the intelligence of animals, such as our cats and dogs that we are familiar with around the house.  We can also get the feeling that there is artificial intelligence in some forms of computer software such as chess programs that exhibit a form of artificial intelligence.  Again, we do not have any instruments to measure intelligence in an objective way.   IQ testing doesn’t seem to be a very good tool.  Our knowledge of intelligence seems to remain in the subjective realm.  Science is concerned with the objective realm, and doesn’t do very well with the subjective realm.

The Implications of A Non-Human Intelligent Agent.

Let's assume that we all agree that this is a valid inference, that the coded instruction set in DNA is evidence of the work of an intelligent agent. 

Is the Intelligent Agent Friend or Foe? 

This brings us back to popular movies like Space Odyssey or Contact in which extra-terrestrial intelligence is the subject of the movie.  When primitive man came across tracks or markings indicating an intelligent agent, the intelligent agent was either another primitive human, or else an animal.   Either way, the highest priority consideration is whether the intelligent agent is a threat or a friend.  This is true for ANY new found intelligent agent in the wild, and must be applied to our new found intelligent agent, the originator of the information in coded DNA.

If a Foe, is the Foe Dangerous to Me? 

The first thing we would ask is, "what is the level of this intelligence relative to mine or other humans?"   Molecular biologists have concluded that the complexity and elegance of the coded instruction set in DNA is far in excess of anything humans could produce.  This is a frightening realization, because, if this intelligent agent is a threat rather than a friend, then we are at a serious disadvantage.  A foe with more intelligence means a foe with better technology and better weapons. 

Aging, Disease and Death 

Fortunately for us, it seems that the intelligent agent, if there was malevolent one, has left the scene.  And if the agent was a threat, then the only malevolent features being left behind for us are the coded instruction sets for pre-programmed aging, disease and death.   I would remiss if I ended this discussion on such a pessimistic and depressing note.  There is another take on things.

Gratitude for Life. 

There is another more optimistic viewpoint based on our understanding of the coded instruction sets in our DNA.  This is the miracle of life, our own individual life that began as two microscopic specks of matter containing paired instruction sets in the DNA.   The underlying intelligence required for the origin of this instruction set is something the ancients understood well.   Whether we use the most powerful instruments to examine the galaxies in space or the smallest particles of the atom, or whether we use the naked eye and the five senses to examine our immediate natural world, we are confronted with the obvious conclusion that the world is permeated with intelligence.  This intelligence makes all life possible, including our individual life.  This realization leads to a sense of gratitude to the Creator, and a sense of wonder and awe.  Yes, we are faced with the eventual prospect of aging, disease and death.  But until that time comes, we will celebrate life.

References for Chapter 50.  Signature In A Cell, Aging Disease and Death

1) Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design by Stephen C. Meyer, HarperOne (June 23, 2009)

2) Natural theology: or Evidences of the existence and attributes of the Deity, collected from the appearances of nature,  by William Paley,1826 ,Lincoln-Rembrandt Pub.; 12 edition (August 1986)

Author Jeffrey Dach MD

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